Remember popcorn lung? Nah me neither, it was 15 years ago and at that time I was more interested in playing with my Transformers and Bionicle’s to be worried about watching the news. Anyway, apparently this disease known as popcorn lung is coming back due to a rise in E-cigarette use.

Popcorn lung is a severe respiratory illness that was linked to certain artificial ingredients found in microwave popcorn back in the 90s. Its real name is Obliterative bronchiolitis which in my opinion, is a much cooler name but oh well, I’m not in charge of naming these things… yet.

The chemical in question is known as diacetyl, a fairly common additive or naturally occurring substance found in foods and drinks that give it a buttery or butterscotch type of smell and taste. However, in foods and drinks, they are safe because problems only arise when diacetyl is inhaled, so you can stop panicking and carry on eating your Werthers originals.

Diacetyl is found in most E-cig flavours but are found in high concentrations in ‘youth orientated flavours’ such as strawberry shortcake and, funnily enough… popcorn. The disease resulting from inhaling this chemical in high doses or for prolonged periods of time is a very nasty disease indeed, as the name suggests is literally obliterates your lungs and causes unrepairable damage.

In one study, of 51 e-cigs tested, 47 of them contained diacetyl or one of two other nasty chemicals, acetoin and 2,3-pentanedione. So, even if you choose a flavour that isn’t in any way related to butter or butter related products, chances are, it still contains a heap of diacetyl or one of the other two abovementioned chemical nasties.

As well as the popcorn lung, chemicals found in E-cigarettes can make the lungs more vulnerable to infection by affecting the lining of the lungs or in a number of other ways. At the end of the day, this so called ‘healthy cigarette’ is far from it.

By all means, use E-cigs as a means to ween yourself off real fegs, but for your own sakes, don’t let yourself get hooked on these new nasties!

Chris Hastings

Chris Hastings

Chris, a Microbiology student, sci-fi writer and self-proclaimed nerd, is a new writer for The Scoop News. Chris writes about scientific news topics in an accessible and entertaining way.
Chris Hastings